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very few theological publications should deserve the epithet) impartial publication. The letters to the doctor were inserted in the fourth volume of the same work. The letters to the Rev. Dan Taylor were first inserted in the numbers of the General Baptist Repository for March and April 1808, and afterwards in the Monthly Repository. Under this article I am confident every reader will join with me in exceedingly regretting that a large collection of Mr. Robinson's letters, written to one of his most intimate friends, many of which, a competent judge assured me, were written on experimental and practical subjects of divinity, in the writer's best style, and which I was promised the perusal and the selection of, should have been mislaid, or lent to some one who has been so careless, or rather so unjust as not to return them. Every search and inquiry after them has hitherto proved fruitless.
I have to request the reader, whilst attending to the contents of this volume, to bear in mind the dates I have mentioned, as he may be the better enabled to judge of the unjust, and unchristian efforts of those persons who during the life time of the author slandered his character, and who since his death have insulted his memory. From a perusal of the following pages, and comparing them with his later writings, it is evident;—That the alteration of his opinions on certain human explanations of scripture doctrines were, comparatively speaking, trivial;--that in the zenith of his popularity even with those who arrogate to themselves the appellation of orthodox, he preached and inculcated those supposed heresies for which he was so plentifully reviled, by the ministers of bis own denomination more particularly ;—that during the period alluded to, he publicly declared his disbelief of the commonly received doctrine of the Trinity ;--that he thought with the reformers LuTHER and Calvin, that “ the word Trinity was
a barbarous, popish word,” which had produced much evil in the christian church; and—that he
ever held," as he expresses himself in a letter to Mr. Dan Taylor,* the opinion of the innocency of involuntary mental error; a truth, I will venture to affirm, which marks the distinguishing characteristic of the righteous judge of all the earth, from the weak, arbitrary, merciless despot. On the unworthy treatment our author met with in his life time, I have enlarged in the Memoirs prefixed to his Miscellaneous Works: of the slander cast on his writings since his death, I think it right to mention one instance, as it was vented in the most public manner before a numerous congregation at the Baptist association in the county of Essex. The preacher after warning his audience against heresy, which he informed them was widely spreading amongst the Baptists, not only in that but other districts ;-after misrepresenting and insulting the minister and congregation in whose pulpit he was unworthily officiating, --so unworthily as to compel the former, immediately on the conclusion of the discourse, to animadvert, although in the most candid manner on the unfounded charges ;-the preacher had the effrontery to add, that this spread of heresy was to be attributed at least in part, “ to the industry with " which the poison of the late Mr. Robinson's wri
* See page 301.
tings had been circulated !” As this calumniator is well known to be as miserably deficient in abilities both natural and acquired, as he is ignorant of the nature and spirit of genuine christianity, the exposure of his name would be making him of too much consequence. It is hoped, however, that the occurrence related will operate as a warning to our dissenting associations, how they appoint preachers on public occasions, who are so little calculated to do honour to their respective denominations, or to the christian ministry. *
* About the same time, the preacher above mentioned made a most indecent attack on the character of a neighbouring minister, with whom he had been in the habits of friendship, in whose pulpit he was engaged in carrying on a lecture with him, and also in a neighbouring village. With all the arrogance of a petty dissenting pope, he sent his friend word, that on account of “his awful departure from the truth," he renounced all connection with him, and would no longer preach in his pulpit; nor in the other pulpit so long as he (his associate hitherto) was engaged. The consequence was, that the persons who had the property of the place of worship, in which the neighbouring lecture was carried on, were weak enough to resign their own liberty, to exclude the minister who had endured much persecution from a high church party, and who was the principal instrument in raising the congregation, and to make his brother hitherto, lord bishop of the barn and the pulpit! Should it be inquired - What were the dread. ful heresies which excited this furious zeal? They were, rea
Were I inclined to inflict on the revilers of Mr. Robinson's writings the chastisement they so justly merit, the apologies so charitably suggested
der, simply as follow ;-the opinions, expressed in a friendly conversation in a parlour, that the" eternal generation of the Son," had no foundation in scripture; and that the phrase “ Son of God," was applied to him only in his character as the Messiah ; points concerning which I need not inform any reader at all acquainted with the controversies on these subjects, that divines of equally established reputation for what is called orthodoxy, have differed without suffering their christian friendship for each other to be diminished : the late Mr. Romaine whose orthodoxy I suppose no one will dispute, thought the opinion of the “ eternal generation of the Son," struck at the doctrine of bis divinity; and indeed the phrase eternal generation, (if it be in itself intelligible) must imply eternal inferiority. Such was the “ awful departure from the “ truth” which raised such a terrible outcry! This same person I have heard in a sermon revile a whole seçt of christians, amongst whom have shone so many great and good men, under the phrase__" The abominable Arminians!"-1 have likewise so far' attracted his notice as to be posted for a Socinian! His only possible excuse for such misrepresentation and reviling, must be his total ignorance of the peculiar tenets of each of the sects alluded to. I sincerely wish this plea of ignorance may serve for others; but it certainly requires the utmost stretch of christian charity to suppose that the cry of heresy, and in particular that of “ Socinianism" is not at times excited, for the dishonest and wicked purpose of injuring the character and hindering the usefulness of men, with whom it is hoped, the exciters have the modesty to shrink from a compa. rison for talents and virtues. Those whose observation and experience have made them acquainted with the mischievous effects of the wretched arts I have thus noticed will not think this note too long ; but will readily join me in lamenting, that instead of leading people out of their prejudices and enforcing on them the importance of thinking for themselves, and
“ If a man,"
by our author for persons of a certain description in his day, would tend in great measure, if not wholly to subdue such inclination. he observes,“ has no natural talents; if he be no
thing but a bundle of sheer boobyism;-blubber “ for orthodoxy he may, but criticise a sentence “ he cannot; and if his temper were as soft as his “ brains I should hold him innoccnt ..... The
idiotism of some men is, in my eye, the seal of " their salvation."*-There are however, I should hope, no persons so ignorant of the very first principles of reason and religion, as not to deem it their duty to acquire minds open to conviction, and to
drawing their sentiments from the pure word of God only, it seems to be the labour of some teachers to confirm those prejudices, and to rivet those chains which a confined mode of education, and an attachment to hụman creeds have forged for them. The consequence of this sad conduct is That whilst the utmost jealousy is excited respecting speculative opinions, too little regard is paid to christian morality. It is notorious, that some of our most famous orthodox ministers, have rendered themselves equally famous for the vices of slander and falsehood; and although they may have been even convicted in a court of justice of these vices, which the gospel pronounces an equal disqualification for entering the king. dom of heaven, with those of any other description, and no signs of repentance have been manifested, are almost equally followed by the laity, and associated with, encouraged, and flattered by the inost orthodox of the sacred order !--Would to God that the christian world would attend to the hint of that great divine, and excellent christian, SAURIN, who in one of his sermons expresses his wish, that instead of the usual anathemas against heresies in doctrine, might be hurled, anathemas against heresies in practice!
* See page 802. Also Miscel. Works, Vol. IV. p. 105.